Nebraska Omaha (8-3) at Minnesota (9-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, December 20, 9 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Williams Arena (14,625) -- Minneapolis, Minnesota. Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: Nebraska Omaha 5-0, Minnesota 7-0. Away Record: Nebraska Omaha 3-3, Minnesota 1-0. Neutral Record: Nebraska Omaha 0-0, Minnesota 1-2. Conference Record: Nebraska Omaha 0-0, Minnesota 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Minnesota Golden Gophers will put their perfect home record on the line when they host the Nebraska Omaha Mavericks in a non-conference bout at Williams Arena.
For the Mavericks, this contest represents a chance to earn a sixth straight victory. The current win streak was pushed to five when they outlasted Nevada (82-80) on the road. The Mavericks are now a solid 8-3 overall with a split of their six road tests. A return home to face Seattle on Sunday awaits before Omaha embarks on a five-game road trip.
On the other side, Minnesota has won four straight games, including its last three at home. The overall winning streak has the Golden Gophers at 9-2 and knocking on the door of the national rankings. The success has been spurned on by a 7-0 mark at home, where they will be again next time against Texas A&M Corpus Christi. That contest marks the last before Big Ten play begins.
Friday's matchup is the first ever between these two programs.
CJ Carter got a layup to fall in the final second to propel the Mavericks to their road win over Nevada. The game featured 13 ties and 11 lead changes. The difference for Omaha was its shooting from beyond the arc, as it had a slight, 33-24, scoring advantage from that distance.
Lighting up the scoreboard has been no trouble whatsoever for the Mavericks. They are netting 84.5 points per game and rank among the top 15 teams in the country in assists (17.5 pg). The offensive fireworks have made for an impressive +13.9 scoring differential. Carter (15.1 ppg, 3.3 apg) is exactly who head coach Derrin Hansen wants taking shots in critical times. The 6- foot-1 guard is leading the team ins scoring and shoots well from 3-point range (.412) and the floor overall (.487). Up front, John Karhoff (13 ppg, 3.9 rpg) provides plenty of scoring, but he needs to be better on the glass. Karhoff had 25 points but only a pair of rebounds against Nevada. Devin Patterson (12.6 ppg 4 apg) helps with scoring and passing.
Minnesota's most recent contest had it matched up with South Dakota State. Austin Hollins (20 points, 14 rebounds) and Elliott Eliason (10 points, 12 rebounds) each had double-doubles in the 75-59 triumph. The duo's work on the boards aided in a 40-30 advantage in rebounds.
A slower pace has kept the Golden Gophers with modest numbers on the offensive end. Still, they are netting 77.2 points per game, despite shooting at just a 43.1 percent clip from the floor. The difference is made up on the defensive end, where Minnesota lets up just 65.7 points per game on 42.3 percent shooting. Andre Hollins (15.8 ppg, 3.4 apg) and Austin Hollins (13.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg) share the bulk of the scoring load, while each contributes in other ways. Andre is the superior ball handler and distributor, while Austin cleans the glass well for a guard. Deandre Mathieu (10.5 ppg, 4.9 apg) is creating more assists than Andre Hollins and Eliason (5.7 ppg, 8.4 rpg) is the top rebounder.
Even though the Mavericks are battle tested on the road and off to a strong start, the Golden Gophers are just too good at home for an upset to be in the works.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Minnesota 84, Nebraska Omaha 71
12/20 10:31:43 ET